Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 156–168 | Cite as

Narrative Role-Taking in Autism

  • Rosa M. García-Pérez
  • R. Peter HobsonEmail author
  • Anthony Lee
Original Paper


Are children with autism able to adopt, and shift among, the psychological perspectives of different people? Fifteen children with autism and 15 without autism, matched for chronological age and verbal ability, were given Feffer’s (1970) role-taking task in which they were asked to tell and then re-tell stories from different protagonists’ perspectives. The children with autism understood the task, adjusted narratives according to alternative viewpoints, and were similar to control participants in their use of mental state terms. Despite this, the children with autism achieved significantly lower scores for adopting different figures’ perspectives, and for shifting among complementary viewpoints. The results illustrate aspects of social-cognitive impairment that extend beyond the children’s limitations in ‘theory of mind’ understanding.


Narrative role-taking Autism Perspective taking Theory of mind Social cognition Interpersonal relatedness 



This research was conducted in part fulfillment of a PhD in the University of London by the first author, and was supported by grants from the Baily Thomas Charitable Trust and the NHS R&D funding. The writing up was completed when the second author was at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford. We would like to thank the students and staff of the Helen Allison and Edith Borthwick Schools, whose participation made this study possible. We are grateful to Derek Moore (who produced the drawings), Gayathri Chidambi and Jessica Meyer (now Hobson) for their input at different stages of the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosa M. García-Pérez
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. Peter Hobson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Anthony Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Developmental Psychopathology Research UnitTavistock ClinicLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of Child HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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